DENVER - The Colorado Civil Rights Commission today affirmed an administrative law judge’s ruling that the owner of a Lakewood bakery discriminated against a gay couple when he refused to sell them a wedding cake.
David Mullins and Charlie Craig went to Masterpiece Cakeshop at 3355 S. Wadsworth Boulevard, with Craig’s mother, in 2012, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception.
Store owner Jack Phillips informed them that, because of his religious beliefs, he didn’t sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.
Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project said, "Religious freedom is undoubtedly an important American value, but so is the right to be treated equally under the law free from discrimination."
During the hearing, Commission Chair Katina Banks said, “You can have your beliefs, but you can’t hurt other people at the same time.”
Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits public accommodations from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
Commissioners ordered the bakery to change its policy, provide staff training and report quarterly to confirm that the business does not turn away customers due to sexual orientation.
“We’re thrilled,” Mullins said.
“Everything they said in there validated how we feel, and that felt really good,” Craig said.
Jack Phillips and his attorney called the ruling unfair.
“When a recently enacted state statute collides with the First Amendment, the First Amendment should win every time,” said Nicolle Martin. “A human rights tribunal has no authority to trump the United States Constitution.”
Phillips claims he didn’t turn the gay couple away.
“I clearly told them that I would make them birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies and brownies,” he said. “I just don’t do cakes for same sex weddings.”
Phillips can appeal the Commission’s ruling to the State Court of Appeals.
When asked what will happen if he loses all his appeals, Phillips replied, “I will stand by my convictions until somebody shuts me down.”
The case generated national publicity and calls for a boycott of the bakery.
Supporters then rallied in a show of force to purchase as many baked goods as possible.
Craig and Mullins say they won’t step foot in the bakery again.
“We’ve already been discriminated against,” Mullins said. “The whole point of this case… is that the next time a gay couple wanders in and asks for a wedding cake, they won’t have the same experience that we had. They will have a professional experience and will feel they were respected.”